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Team Avatar is chased by a mysterious machine, which makes it impossible for the group to stop and sleep. The lack of sleep makes everyone irritable and causes a quarrel between Katara and Toph. Aang acts as a decoy to lure the followers away, but he is finally cornered by Azula in an abandoned town. His friends, plus Zuko and his uncle, arrive to take Azula down together, but she injures Iroh in a moment of distraction and escapes.
Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph have landed in a clearing where they begin to unpack. Toph comments on their superb campsite finding abilities as she feels the "soft grass". However, Sokka corrects her that it is not grass, but Appa's shed fur. This comment is not received well by Katara, who believes it is gross. Aang and Sokka comically start playing with the fur, making hats and mustaches out of it. Katara vocalizes her happiness of having another girl in the group because of the boys' immaturity. However, those hopes are shattered as Toph, like Aang and Sokka, walks up and plays along hilariously. Aang and Sokka laugh, and Katara has no choice but to giggle too.
Night has fallen as the group sets up camp. Aang pitches a tent, Sokka unravels sleeping bags, Katara is filling a pot with water, and Toph lounges lazily against a rock. Katara comes over and begins to explain the group's normal system of setting up camp: they divide up the work, for example, while someone pitches a tent, someone else might gather food or water, and that even Momo "does his fair share". Toph does not take the hint and tells her she has already collected her food and water and claims she can "carry her own weight". Katara gets slightly frustrated and tries re-explaining the system, but Toph becomes aggravated and snaps at her; Katara storms off.
Later that night, Aang and Sokka are setting up the last of camp as they unsaddle Appa. Katara comes over to apologize to Toph. Toph again agitates her by turning the apology around on her. Later that night, Toph is silently sleeping in her earthen tent when she is awakened by a vibration in the earth. She rushes to tell the others. She tries to see if she can identify it, saying "it feels like an avalanche, but also not an avalanche." Sokka congratulates her on her "frightening" powers of perception. They decide leaving the campsite is the best choice.
Off in the distance, they get a slight glimpse of what is following them: a large, tank-like war machine moving fast across the desert terrain. After hours of flying, the group's exhaustion plays out on their faces as they each have dark circles under their eyes showing from their lack of sleep. Finally they settle on a spot. Toph makes her way to where she plans to sleep, but Katara again asks her to help and Toph declines. Katara is again displeased by this, decides enough is enough, and confronts Toph about her lack of help to them.
Toph argues back before "slamming the door" in Katara's face as she earthbends a tent and earthbends the door right in front of her. Aang decides to play peacemaker and asks them both to calm down. However, Katara's emotions due to lack of sleep cause her to snap at Aang, screaming at him, "I'm completely calm!" Later, Aang and Sokka are seemingly fast asleep as Katara stares angrily at the night sky. She loudly comments on how beautiful the stars are and how Toph will not be able to see them since she is blind. In response, Toph earthbends Katara airborne a few feet before she lands on Sokka.
Sokka's emotions cause him to snap from being woken up. However, there is little time to argue as Toph informs them the machine is back. They fly away on Appa again. While in the air, they debate about the machine and how it continually finds them. Finally finding a spot that was seemingly away from the machine, the group decides to not even set up camp, but to sleep. They again debate for a minute on what the machine is or who is chasing them. Katara brings up the possibility that it is Zuko, given they have not seen him since they were up north. Unaware of who Zuko is, Toph inquires about him. Sokka answers that he is "just some angry freak with a ponytail who's tracked [them] all over the world." Katara mocks, "What's wrong with ponytails, ponytail?" and Sokka sternly told her his is a warrior's wolf tail.
Their debate is cut short as Momo senses the machine's approach, as does Toph. They see the machine moving forward in the distance as it kicks up dirt behind it. Aang believes they should face their pursuers and find out who they are. The tank comes to a halt and the door opens. Three mongoose dragons emerge from it. Their riders and the cause of all the tension among everyone in the gang are revealed to be Ty Lee, Mai, and Azula. Toph believes they can take them as she calculates the odds: three on three. However, Sokka corrects her, telling her there are actually four of them. After a small argument, Toph recalculates: three on three plus Sokka. Sokka is infuriated, but there is no time to argue as Azula's group draws closer. Toph sends the first strike as she earthbends boulders down at them, but their lizards easily climb over them.
The group decides it is safer if they left, so Aang, Katara, and Sokka head back for Appa. Toph tries to buy them some time by creating a large rock wall separating Azula's team from them. It seems to work until Azula sends a bolt of lightning at it, blowing a huge hole into the wall. The gang barely escapes as Azula sends a jet of fire at them.
Meanwhile, Appa too is tired and is rapidly closing and opening his eyes, trying desperately to stay awake. Again they debate on what to do, and Katara reveals her fear of Ty Lee taking her bending away again. To Sokka's horror, the sun rises over a mountain in the distance, signaling they have been up all night. They decide to keep flying for as long as possible, but Aang warns them that they cannot keep flying forever.
As the sun rises, Azula's machine is racing to catch up with the gang. However, they are not alone; Zuko follows the machine's tracks not far behind. Appa, meanwhile, is having even more difficulty staying awake and finally gives in and falls asleep. This sends Appa and the gang plummeting toward the ground. Aang tries desperately to wake him as they continue to race toward the ground. Finally Appa awakens and stops just above the trees, but is unable to keep airborne, and they crash-land in the woods. Aang states the obvious: "Appa's exhausted."
More high tension causes another fight to break out between Katara and Toph, but this time Aang joins in when Toph blames Appa for their predicament; his shed fur is leaving a perfect trail for Azula and her gang. Toph, out of aggravation, decides to leave, as Azula's machine picks up speed upon seeing the fur flying through the air, proving her right. Aang is furious with himself for yelling at his earthbending teacher, and Katara too is disgusted with herself because of her actions. Sokka is of little comfort as he agrees that they were jerks.
They decide to find Toph and apologize, but first wash Appa. Now clean and shed fur-less, Appa is deemed ready to fly by Aang as long as they leave his saddle and everything else off. Aang decides to give Azula the slip and take what is left of the shed fur and lead the tank off course. Appa flies off in one direction, hitting trees on take-off, and Aang in another.
Toph has now walked for some time and gained much distance. She stops suddenly upon feeling a vibration. She hits the ground, knocking the unknown person off their feet. That person is revealed to be Iroh. Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee have reached the spot of Appa's bath and found the wet fur deposited into the stream. Ty Lee debates with herself as to whether the "wads" are "bundles" or "bunches" of fur, stating that they have an "uh" sound. Mai helps her along, deeming them "clumps". Ty Lee excitedly hugs Mai before she can block the action. She pushes Ty Lee off and tells Azula the trail heads off in a direction to the right. However, Azula notices the broken trees from Appa's shaky take-off and is suspicious of Aang's plan to divert them. She tells Mai and Ty Lee to head in the direction of the broken trees and she will follow the fur trail.
Aang, exhausted and low on momentum, lands in a small abandoned Earth Kingdom town. He slumps on to the end of the town; there he dumps the remains of what fur is left and sits there, waiting for Azula. Back on Appa, Momo lets out a screech signaling the return of Mai and Ty Lee, enabling them to duck out of the way of Mai's darts in time. Katara desperately tries to get Appa to move faster, but to no avail. He shoots like a stone being skipped across the river to where Sokka and Katara believe they are safe. However, their hopes are shattered as the mongoose dragons reveal their most astonishing ability: they are able to run on water.
Ty Lee heads for Katara. She begins darting her hands to pressure points, but Katara's past experience with Ty Lee's chi blocking allows her to dodge her attacks easily. After a small battle, Katara ends up pinned to a tree by the hem of her sleeves through Mai's expert knife-throwing skills, and Sokka becomes almost completely paralyzed by Ty Lee's strikes. Appa, however, proves to be a saving grace as he smacks his tail to the ground, blasting a gust of wind at Mai and Ty Lee, throwing them into the river. After Sokka and Katara left, Ty Lee commented that she thought Sokka was "cute", which earns her a look of disgust from Mai.
Back in the town, Azula has reached the end of the trail where Aang is waiting for her. She dismounts her lizard. Aang, tired and sleep-deprived, tries to seek diplomacy and asks who Azula is and what she wants. She is surprised he has not guessed yet so she gives him a hint: she covers the left side of her face with her hand, deepens her voice to somewhat match Zuko's and says, "I must find the Avatar to restore my honor!" Aang does not respond.
Toph and Iroh are sharing a cup of tea on cliff overlooking a farming village. Iroh finds similarities between Toph and his nephew. Toph asks where his nephew is and if he is lost. Iroh responds that he is "a little lost", Iroh tells her his nephew's life has recently changed, and now he is trying to find who he is. Iroh also advises her not to resist when people that love you try to help you. She takes this into consideration and heads off to find the gang.
Azula and Aang stand facing each other at a stand off. She asks Aang if he really wants to fight her; right on cue, Zuko bursts through an old building, lands between the two, and says, "Yes, I really do." It is a three way stand off as Zuko holds his position between Aang and Azula, keeping his battle stance poised at both of them. Aang and Zuko face off against the Fire Nation Princess, as she proves to be the most dangerous of the three. Azula fires the first shot, hitting Zuko hard and knocking him back. After that, she quickly corners Aang.
All three exchange blows until the duel is joined by Katara, Sokka, Iroh, and Toph. The six of them (Katara, Aang, Sokka, Toph, Zuko, and Iroh) create a perfect perimeter in front of Azula and back her in a corner. She surrenders, and for one brief second, Iroh lets his guard down and turns to see his new friend, Toph, standing with the Avatar. Azula takes advantage of this and fires at him. Zuko lets out a horrified cry, and all four benders unleash their power and Sokka throws his boomerang against her. After a large explosion, Azula disappears.
Zuko rushes to his uncle's side, releasing an anguished cry. He senses the others behind him and orders them to leave. Katara comes forward and offers to help, but before she can explain, Zuko's frustration causes him to let out a violent burst of fire, and he orders them to leave again. Later that night, the gang finally finds peace as they are fast asleep.
- Written by:
- Directed by:
- Additional voices:
- Dee Bradley Baker
- Grey DeLisle
- Main article: Transcript:The Chase
- Katara and Toph's quarrel is echoed in a later episode, "The Runaway".
- Toph and Iroh's friendship is revealed to the gang in "The Crossroads of Destiny", when Iroh approaches them for help.
- This is the second incident where Appa uses his tail to blow Mai and Ty Lee away from Sokka and Katara. The first was in "Return to Omashu".
- This is the second episode in which Aang makes himself a mustache out of Appa's fur. The first time was in "The King of Omashu".
- Azula's escape is portrayed in The Boy in the Iceberg play that Team Avatar attends in Book Three.
- This is the first episode that features all six prominent characters.
- When everyone dismounts Appa, Toph is noticeably taller, being able to see at least eye to eye with Aang. Later in the episode, she returns to her normal height.
- When Toph is first seen standing in Appa's fur, her shadow is in front of her and the rest of the fur in sunlight. When the angle changes, however, everything is in shadow because of Appa.
- When Toph makes her earth tent, she bends it over her. In the next frame, she is seen sitting in front of it.
- Toph is seen in an earthen tent in one frame, and a cloth tent in the next.
- While the sun is rising, Sokka says he did not sleep through the whole night. However, in an earlier scene where Team Avatar has to leave a second time because of the mysterious machine, he is shown sleeping on Appa.
- When Zuko is following Azula's tank train on his ostrich horse, in the first shot, he is in between the two indentations of the wheels. In the next, he is to the left of both of them.
- When Ty Lee tries to chi block Sokka, he drops his club and his boomerang on the ground next to his feet. The view moves to Ty Lee, holding her hand in pain after hitting Sokka in the head by accident before switching back to Sokka, with no boomerang on the ground.
- After the fight with Ty Lee and Mai, there is no appearance of their mongoose dragons anywhere, whether on either side of the river or in it.
- When Aang sits down in the ghost town, he is in the center of the street with buildings in front and behind him, but in the next frame, he is sitting at the end of the street with no buildings behind him.
- When Aang holds his staff ready during the stand-off with Zuko and Azula, it is warped so that the diamond pieces where the glider is stored are longer than in any other frame.
- After Azula almost loses her balance in the ruined house, Aang exits the building nearly burnt by Azula's fireball, yet the angle it travels, parallel to the ground, suggests that Azula is on the second floor, which would not be possible, as Azula had been standing on the ground floor.
- The buildings that Aang jump to and from at one point change appearance in the next shot.
- When Azula is cornered, Aang is on Katara's left, but after Azula disappears, Aang is on Katara's right.
- This is the first time in the series that all four elements are shown attacking the same target. The other time this occurs is in the episode "Sozin's Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang" when Aang, in the Avatar State, attempts to kill Fire Lord Ozai.
- When Katara first talks to Toph about helping out, Toph is chewing on a piece of wheat, a well known component of Jet's character. Additionally, Toph and Jet both possess rebellious natures.
- According to Avatar Extras, an earlier storyboard had other animals around Team Avatar's campsites. However, the writers decided not to put them in the episode.
- Avatar Extras states that the fight sequence between Aang, Zuko, and Azula, was meant to resemble a "Mexican Standoff", more commonly used to refer to a three way duel, and was modeled after multiple Westerns. It was also noted that the battle was challenging for the shows creators, due to the fact that they had to coordinate each of their movements, and show all three of them fighting each other at the same time.
- According to Avatar Extras, the name of the abandoned town was Tu Zin. It was also stated that it was a mining town and after all the minerals were gone, the people literally left overnight.
- When Sokka makes a wig out of Appa's shed fur, the wig resembles Marge's hairdo from The Simpsons.
- Azula's smile when she finds Aang at the abandoned village mirrors Ozai's smile in "Zuko Alone", when he is watching Azula firebending.
- A lot of scenes during the chase closely resemble the chase in the 1969 western film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. An example being: after robbing a train, another train pulls up from behind with only one boxcar and it opens up with the cavalry chasing after them like Azula's tank train in this episode.
- When Ty Lee attempts to paralyze Sokka's head, she hurts her hand. This symbolizes the fact that he is hard-headed, realistic, and practical and that he is thick-skulled; despite being a valuable member to the gang and coming up with ways to get them out of sticky situations, he is seen as unintelligent and slow by others.